Daily Archives: August 21, 2012

Nimiam Licentiam: To Bishops of Poland: On Validity of Marriages

The Papal Encyclicals

The third encyclical, Nimiam Licentiam: To bishops of Poland: On validity of marriages, was written on 18 May 1743.

In this encyclical, the problem is that too many marriages are being dissolved in Poland. The pope lays out some of the reasons why this is happening and gives guidelines so that the sanctity of marriage can be better understood.

He notes that there have been a lot of “hidden” marriages occurring, which are not celebrated publicly.

When judging marriages for validity or nullity, the judges have been inexperienced, ignorant, unqualified, or dishonest. If a person appealed, the second judge would charge an additional fee and overturn the ruling of the previous judge.

Marriages were conducted by any random priest and not the pastor who knew the couple.

Marriages were entered into by force or through fear.

Banns were not posted for three feast days prior to the wedding ceremony, to ensure that there were not any impediments to marriage.

Priests did not sufficiently inquire to determine if either party had any impediments to marriage.

Spouses entered pre-nuptial agreements. (The pope said that the penalty for this is excommunication.)

After listing these various practices which undermine the sanctity of marriage, cause scandal and lead to a higher incidence of the dissolution of marriage, the Pope gives some strategies for avoiding these pitfalls and affirming the permanence and validity of marriages.

First, the couple’s pastor should be the one to witness the union, unless there is grave and just cause why he cannot.

Nuptial banns must be posted at least three feast days prior. Only the local bishop can lift this requirement to one feast day or none, and only for grave cause.

Pastors must inquire of the couples to ensure that they are able to enter into a marriage and that there is no impediment.

There will be two processes for judging the validity/nullity of a marriage; the first by the bishop and the second by the metropolitan. If there’s any question after that, it goes to the Cardinals (a specific office in the Roman curia?).

Dear Polish People,
Marriage is serious business. Do not try to find or create loopholes for yourselves.
The Pope